Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958: A National Necessity or a Stain on the World’s Largest Democracy?

This articles is authored by Dr. Garima Tiwari, an Assistant Professor at School of Law, Bennett University, Greater Noida, and Karthik Sarma, a student at the National Law Institute University, Bhopal. This article attempts to analyse the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and critique it from a constitutional and human rights outlook.


The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) provides unique and excessive powers to the Indian army in “disturbed areas” and justifies several actions taken by them as legal. The paper outlines the concerns faced by the North-Eastern states and Jammu and Kashmir in this respect, wherein AFSPA has invoked strong reactions. In a democracy, military forces must be deployed for a limited time and not indefinitely on the grounds of these states being “disturbed” for years. This also raises the issue of poor governance and consequent implications on the citizenry. In this light, the article provides the background to AFSPA and its application in North East India and Jammu and Kashmir. While the Supreme Court has endorsed the law’s constitutional validity, the article provides a critique of AFSPA in terms of its content, scope, and application from a constitutional and human rights perspective. Thereafter, it calls for necessary amendments and a democratic review of the law